Staff Profile

Tom Zunder

Rail Freight & Logistics Research Manager and Principal Research Associate



I am a knowledgeable academic and a skilled commercial manager, who for 15 years managed purchasing, production control, distribution and overall supply chain, in manufacturing industry. For over 16 years I have pursued an academic career and am currently a Principal Research Associate, managing the Freight and Logistics research group, deliverables and dissemination in EU research projects, and pursuing academic and applied research, at Newcastle University. The proposals developed, co-ordinated, written, proposed, negotiated and implemented total around £3.5million to Newcastle University and 15 times that amount to all project partners.

My wide international network of contacts in academia, business, and government - including the European Commission - assists me in identifying funding sources; I build and organise consortia, and prepare and submit proposals, for research in all relevant funding calls. I present my research work and outcomes at international scientific, policy, and business conferences and workshops. I have a strong portfolio of publications: procedia, trade press, book chapters and journal articles. I teach freight & logistics on MSc courses at Newcastle University, as well as having researched and delivered international curriculum development for rail operations and logistics. My colleague and I developed a fuel management module, for deployment in higher education, as part of the UK Freight Best Practice programme. I am a project evaluator and reviewer for the European Commission in the field of the public procurement of innovation [PPI].

My 3 decades of experience in purchasing and supply chain management have involved the analysing and implementing of innovative solutions in road, rail and sea freight. Having worked in the steel, automotive, transport and machine tools industries I have, since 2002, been able to take my hands-on experience into academic research within the field of freight and logistics, combining practical experience with field research into the relationships between all actors in the freight and logistics arena. I tend to hold a pragmatist position on research philosophy; approaches I have deployed and which I (currently) find most interesting include: Delphi surveys; CBA; Gap analyses; Environmental impact assessment; market research; mixed methods research; action research; and systems thinking. The areas of knowledge and practical expertise upon which I currently focus, often in conjunction and holistically, are: rail freight; city logistics; ICT and transport logistics; and sustainable procurement.

Google Scholar Profile

SCOPUS Profile 

Areas of expertise: Sustainable Transport Logistics


Freight&Logistics News Blog

How Newcastle University has learnt to love consolidation

SPECTRUM: Innovative RailFreight Electronic Handbook

Don Quixote and Urban Freight, A Fairy Tale (7 mins)

The Freightwise Video (which I wrote)

The Future of Freight in the UK


1997-98 Cranfield University
MSc in Distribution and Logistics.

1983-1986 University of Sheffield
BA Honours in Economic and Social History. Class: Upper Second 2:1


Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (FCILT)

Full Member of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply (MCIPS)

Esteem Indicators

  • Steering Committee member of the ALICE Logistics technology platform 2015
  • Facilitator of the European Conference of Transport Research Institutes (ECTRI) Freight TG 2015  
  • Chair of the BESTFACT conference on “Green Logistics and Co-modality”, Vienna, Sept 2013
  • Invited speaker and moderator at the European ITS conference, Dublin June 2013
  • Chair of the “Rail Freight Without Borders” Conference, Budapest 2012.
  • Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, 2011.
  • Member of the European Railway Research Advisory Council.
  • Invited member of the Tyne and Wear Freight on Rail group, 2011-present.
  • Invited member of the Tyne and Wear Freight Quality Partnership, 2010-present.
  • Chair of the FREIGHTWISE International Conference; London, UK, April 2010
  • Invited Speaker and Chair at the 2nd European Conference on ICT for Transport Logistics; Venice, IT,
  • Oct 2009
  • Chair of FREIGHTWISE International Conference; Prague, CZ, December 2008
  • Invited Chair at the BESTUFS International Conference, Athens, Greece, June 2008
  • Invited to write leading opinion piece in Rail Freight Handbook 2008
  • Chair of FREIGHTWISE International Conference; Newcastle, UK, December 2007
  • Presented paper on “Methodology for City Freight Solutions” at ‘eDrul/MEROPE/CITYPORTS’ conference Florence November 2004.
  • Articles published on Road Pricing in the CILT UK magazine FOCUS, October and November 2004
  • Article published in the ‘Freight Industry Yearbook 2004/2005’
  • Presented paper “Road pricing and effect on urban freight” at ‘The Sustainable City 2004’; Siena, Italy 18-19th June 2004.
  • Invited speaker at the Polish Logistics Congress; Poznan, Poland, 19-21st May 2004.
  • Invited speaker at ‘Integrated Intelligent Transport Solutions’; London, UK, March 2004
  • Keynote speaker on “Urban Freight in the European Union” at the Freight and Logistics Symposium; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 5th December 2004
  • Chair of the BESTUFS Conference on Urban Freight Logistics and the Environment; Copenhagen, May 2003
  • Chair of the BESTUFS Conference on Urban Freight and International Best Practice; Paris, June 2002


Research Interests

I tend to hold a pragmatist position on research philosophy. The research approaches I have deployed and which I (currently) find most interesting include: Delphi surveys, CBA, Gap analyses, Environmental impact assessment, market research, mixed methods research, action research, systems thinking approaches and action research. The areas of knowledge and practical expertise that I focus on, often in conjunction and holistically, are rail freight, city logistics, ICT and transport logistics, and sustainable procurement.

Current Work

  • Logistics benchmarking and standards
  • research into satellite navigation and vehicle wayfinding
  • ongoing research into urban freight and city logistics
  • research into the optimisation of intermodal freight using optimised systems
  • development of a market based approach to urban freight access
  • systems architectures and intermodal freight
  • eLogistics field research and gap analysis
  • rail freight logistics and operations on a continental cross border scale
  • sustainable procurement policy and practice

Postgraduate Supervision

PhD student supervision 2007-present


I have developed, bid for and won €5 million euros of EU research funding 2004-2017 for my team, co-ordinator and principal investigator.

  • CAPITAL: Collaborative cApacity Programme on Intelligent Transport Systems Training educAtion and Liaison
  • NOVELOG: New cooperative business models and guidance for sustainable city logistics
  • Capacity4Rail - Increasing Capacity 4 Rail networks through enhanced infrastructure and optimised operations
  • SMARTSET: Sustainable MARketdriven Terminal Solutions for Efficient freight Transport
  • SmartFusion: Smart Urban Freight Solutions
  • BESTFACT: Best Practice Factory for Logistics
  • SPECTRUM: Solutions and Processes to Enhance the Competitiveness of Transport by Rail in Unexploited Markets
  • TUNRAIL: Research into the development of rail based curricula in higher education
  • e-Freight: European e-freight capabilities for co-modal transport
  • SuperGreen: Supporting EU’s Freight Transport Logistics Action Plan on Green Corridors Issues
  • BE LOGIC: Benchmarking Logistics Chains
  • KOMODA: Co-modality - towards optimised integrated chains in freight transport logistics
  • RETRACK: Reorganisation of transport networks by advanced rail freight concepts
  • FREIGHTWISE: management framework for intelligent intermodal transport
  • Bestufs II - Best Urban Freight Solutions Two


Postgraduate Teaching

PhD Student Supervision 2007-present

MBA Logistics module, Newcastle University Business School, 2008-2012

Rail Freight and Logistics Logistics MSc teaching 2010-present

Curricula development

My colleagues and I have done funded research into and then development of curricula in the areas of rail operations and logistics as well as fuel management and international logistics policy and practice.